The rain rattled the window of my room
As thunder clapped through the air
The noise was almost enough to drown out the sobs
But not quite
I was sitting on the floor, holding my phone
On the screen was a text from a month ago
It said "It's not you, it's me."
I was torturing myself by looking at it, I knew that
But for some reason I'd been thinking about her all day
So the storm was a great excuse to sob my feelings out
I'd been fully content to stay wedged in the corner all evening
When I heard a timid knock on the front door
I was surprised enough to stop crying
It came again
I burrowed deeper into the hoodie I'd stolen from my brother, hoping whoever it was would go away
But they didn't
They just knocked again, a bit more desperately
Sighing, I picked myself up off the floor
Didn't anyone respect what a girl has to go through to get over someone?
I opened the door to see a tiny girl standing on the doorstep
She was adorable, with big brown eyes and rosy cheeks
But she was soaked to the bone
"Lily!" A voice called. "Don't bother that nice lady!"
I looked out into the yard, seeing only a dark figure standing by the edge of road
"Hi there!" The toddler called cheerfully
"Hello." I replied
She seemed sweet
"My mommy's car won't go, can you help?" She said
I smiled at her honesty
She hadn't learned to be distrustful yet
I liked that.
"Sure I can. Why don't you and your mommy come in? You must be freezing."
"Mommy!" The girl called loudly. "C'mere"
The woman glanced between the car and her daughter for a moment, before jogging over
She looked soaked through as well
"Hi" I said
But as she stepped into the light I nearly choked on my own tongue
She was young, much younger than I'd expected, and beautiful
Her dark hair was soaked with rain, but even that couldn't diminish the beauty of her smooth skin and sparkling eyes
"Hi, I'm so sorry to bother you, we just had a bit of car trouble and-"
"It's no trouble at all. Please, come in, you must be freezing."
She hesitated a moment before nodding and stepping inside, pulling the little girl behind her.
"I'm Lily. What's your name?" The little girl asked
"I'm Kara, nice to meet you." I said
She stared at me a moment before answering, "I'm Amara"
She reached out her hand to shake
And I took it, becoming quickly overwhelmed by her soft touch
"Let me get you some dry things!" I shouted abruptly, speaking more loudly than I should've.
I ran to the bathroom and grabbed some towels.
I saw myself in the mirror and was immediately embarrassed at my disheveled appearance. I quickly ran a brush through my hair and swiped on some lipgloss before moving on.
In my room, I grabbed a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt for Amara, as well as a shirt I figured could work on Lily as a dress.
I re-entered the foyer only to find Amara holding Lily back from touching the vase on the counter.
"Lily, no." She hissed. "Don't touch."
"It's alright" I called out. "Don't worry, I was a curious kid too. Here, I grabbed you some towels and dry clothes.
The guest bath is right through there, please feel free to use whatever you need."
Amara smiled gratefully and whispered a thank you before herding Lily into the bathroom.
I stood frozen in the foyer for a moment, before coming up with another idea.
"Cocoa. I'll make them some cocoa."
Just as the milk started to boil, Amara and Lily entered the kitchen, looking significantly dryer than before
Amara's long hair was up in a bun on the top of her head, with just a few wisps framing her face
She looked like she'd just left a photoshoot, not a rainstorm
"Ooh, watcha making?" Lily asked, hopping on one foot as if that'd make her see better
"Cocoa. Do you like it?" I asked
"Yup!" Lily replied, starting to hop like a bunny
"You didn't have to do that." Amara said softly
"I'm happy to." I responded, stirring the pot to make sure the chocolate was fully melted
"Can I sit on your big couch?" Lily called from the living room
I turned, surprised I hadn't noticed her leave the room
"Sure." I said
Amara leaned against the counter and sighed.
"I'm sorry about her, I swear I try to teach her manners but-" She starts, but I cut her off
"Don't worry about it, I really don't mind. It's better to have company than to-" I stop talking abruptly, not wanting to mention Her.
"Than to what?" Amara asked, looking genuinely interested
"Nothing. I was just thinking about my ex before you guys arrived. It's nice to get my mind off it." I said
She smiled at me, and a couple butterflies made themselves known in my stomach
"Can I grab mugs?" She asked
"Sure. Cupboard next to the fridge."
I really tried not to watch her
But the burn on my thumb told me I failed
We sat in the living room drinking cocoa for a while, around a fire I built in the fireplace
After a while, Lily started to seem tired, drifting off here and there before nodding back awake
One of the times she was dozing, I whispered to Amara
"If you two would like to stay the night, I really don't mind. I have an extra bedroom."
"I really don't want to impose..." She started, but I could tell the offer was tempting with how bad the storm had gotten.
"You can't drive in this rain anyway, and your car isn't working" I pointed out
She locked eyes with me, smiling genuinely
"Thank you. I really don't know what we would've done without your kindness."
I smiled back at her, and she almost seemed to lean toward me
For a moment, I imagined leaning forward, pressing my lips to hers, but I quickly got ahold of myself
Lily had to have come from somewhere, the odds that Amara was single were very small
"Lily, do you wanna try out a waterbed?" I blurted, breaking the intensity of the moment
"Yeah!" She yelled, jumping off the couch before stumbling over her own feet
Amara scooped her up and I showed her the guest bedroom, where she settled Lily in for the night
While she was occupied, I gathered up the empty mugs and picked up the blankets off the floor
I was about to put out the fire when Amara reappeared
"It seems a shame to waste such a warm fire" she remarked
"Well, we could enjoy it a while longer if you'd like" I answered, surprised she hadn't gone to bed with her daughter.
We sat back down on the couch, awkwardly far apart now that bubbly Lily wasn't in the room
Amara rested her head against the couch, and I suddenly wished I'd sat closer, so it would've been me, not the couch
"So what happened with your ex?" Amara asked all of a sudden
I was surprised at her bluntness, but the immediate blush on her cheeks told me she hadn't really thought that question through
"Well, it's been a month now. I'm pretty much over it, but I still get lonely sometimes. The part that sucked was just that she dumped me over text, and-"
"She?" Amara asked
I hadn't even thought about my wording until she asked, so I was immediately worried
"Oh, yeah, I'm um- I'm gay." I mumbled. "Don't worry though, I'm not, like, a creep or anything-I mean, I'm not trying to like creep on your daughter or keep you here to seduce you or anything."
"That's too bad." She murmured
"What?" I asked, afraid I'd offended her
I often forgot how unaccepting people could be, I should've been more careful with what I said.
"I was hoping you were trying to seduce me." She answered
I asked, my mouth hanging open
Did she really just say that?
She smiled at me, a glimmer of teasing shining in her eyes as she scooted a bit closer to me
"Wait, are you gay?" I asked, ignoring the awkwardness of the question
She looked into my eyes a moment before slowly nodding her head
A smile flickered on my lips before I blurted out the question I had to ask
"I was supposed to be a surrogate for my brother, but his wife died in a car crash a week before Lily was due. He was in too much pain to take her, so I kept her." She explained
I blinked, trying to process all the information
"Wow." Was all I could think to say
Amara grinned a bit at my obvious struggle to stay polite, and bumped her shoulder against mine
"It's alright. I wasn't planning on keeping her, but Lily's the best thing that ever happened to me. Other than the fact that she scares away most dates."
"This isn't a date?" I managed to squeak out
"Darn." She whispered, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear
I shivered at her touch, my eyes fluttering closed involuntarily for a second
"So you don't want this to be a date?" She asked
I swallowed hard
"I- I didn't say that." I covered
I was surprised at her boldness, with how polite and nervous she'd seemed before
But I definitely wasn't complaining about the flirty side she was showing now
"Well..." She whispered, leaning even closer
I bit my lip, looking into her dark eyes
Now that she was close, I could see all the different shades captured in her eyes, all swirled together like a rich cup of cocoa
And I was far too close to her lips
"Amara..." I whispered
"What?" She whispered back
"You're really beautiful"
She blushed at that, her eyes flickering away from mine before meeting my gaze again
"You're really beautiful too." She answered
I bit my lip, and looked away from her
So it was a complete surprise to me when her lips brushed mine
But that didn't stop me from kissing back
And when her hand softly traced my jaw I melted into her, and the whole world faded away
I didn't even hear the rain anymore
And that was the moment I knew that I wasn't going to be lonely anymore
And I wasn't
The joy she and Lily brought into my life filled up every corner of my empty heart,
And my empty house
It isn't so empty now, though
With three kids, there's a toy or a smile around every corner
And a family tradition of cocoa every time it rains
Because without a rainstorm
I never would've met my daughter, Lily
Or Amara, my wife